Does Warren Buffett Invest in Precious Metals?
Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy provides guidance to investors around the globe. He emphasizes companies that produce goods or services, generate profits and have potential to expand those profits further.
Gold doesn’t fit that bill, which explains why its presence won’t be found among Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. portfolio holdings.
Why Buffett Doesn’t Invest in Gold
Buffett shared his rationale in his 2011 letter to shareholders for not investing in gold, noting its unproductive assets can cost investors dearly in terms of opportunity costs. To illustrate, all 170,000 tons of world’s gold at that time fitted into an area 68 feet square. All that space could have been put to better use by businesses that could increase earnings over time and provide returns on your investments.
Buffett prioritizes investments that generate income, appreciate over time and are expected to produce growth over time – the cornerstones of value investing. As such, while precious metals like gold may serve as an effective hedge against inflation or stock market crashes, it probably wouldn’t make his portfolio given their limited utility; instead he prefers companies which create products and services, innovate products, drive human progress forward, while inert blocks of gold simply can’t do.
Why Buffett Doesn’t Invest in Silver
Buffett states that silver does not meet his value investing principle, which calls for investments that meet practical needs. Gold can be found in jewelry manufacturing plants; silver on the other hand is excavated from underground reserves and turned into bars to be sold off for cash.
Though investing in gold mining stocks may be prudent over time, betting all on physical silver bullion would likely prove more risky than beneficial at present prices. Indeed, just after Buffett stood up for delivery in early February on COMEX Silver Lease Rate skyrocketed dramatically.
Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett found tremendous bargains in the precious metals markets, without falling for silver’s hyped-up momentum play. Jumping on this bandwagon could damage Buffett’s credibility as an investment pro and make him look like an amateur parasite rather than an intelligent investor.
Why Buffett Doesn’t Invest in Platinum
Gold and silver may make for attractive investments as monetary metals, but they don’t generate cash flows like an interest-bearing bond or profitable business would. At best they might protect against inflation.
Buffett shocked everyone when he made an unexpected investment of $563 million worth of shares in Barrick Gold last quarter, seemingly counter to his longstanding position against gold as an investment asset. Joining momentum plays that have driven up its price was something nobody saw coming.
Buffett typically adheres to his value investing principle, which only permits him to own assets that meet a practical need. Silver fits this description, explaining why shares of Hecla Mining Co. soared on news of Berkshire’s investment. Nonetheless, silver prices are lower now than when Buffett bought his initial 3,500 tons a decade earlier; gold’s phenomenal rise may have rendered his silver bet less wise since then.
Why Buffett Doesn’t Invest in Palladium
The Oracle of Omaha has long criticized gold as failing his test for investment-worthiness. His feelings against it stem from his value investing principles, which dictate that only assets that provide practical benefit qualify as worthwhile investments.
Gold may be used for ornamental uses such as jewelry and ornamental objects, but its industrial applications are limited; therefore it should be seen as an unproductive asset that won’t generate significant cash flow for investors.
Silver’s widespread uses make it more desirable as an investment for Buffett than gold; hence his decision in Q2 2020 to acquire an enormous position in silver mining giant Barrick Gold despite initially coming as a surprise to market watchers. But upon further reflection it should come as no shocker; Berkshire Hathaway typically raises and lowers their holding in Barrick in tandem with commodity price fluctuations; consistent with his preference of investing in companies that generate consistent and stable cash flow streams.
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